“Paracetamol may dull emotions as well as physical pain, new study shows’,” The Guardian reports.
The story comes from research testing whether over-the-counter painkiller paracetamol can blunt not just the feeling of pain, but also emotions.
Half the study’s 80 participants were given a normal dose of paracetamol, while the other half took a placebo pill.
They were then asked to view photos commonly used by researchers to test both positive and negative emotional responses.
These included, for instance, unpleasant pictures of crying, malnourished children and pleasant images, such as children playing with cats.
The study found that those who had taken paracetamol reported slightly less intense reactions to the photos than those who had taken a placebo pill.
They also found the photos less emotionally arousing.
The researchers speculated that paracetamol may affect signalling pathways inside the brain, which may have an effect on mood.
However, far more research is needed before any conclusions can be drawn as to whether the painkiller can dull emotional reactions, particularly real life events.
If you are taking paracetamol on a long-term basis due to a chronic pain condition, and feel that you are less emotionally engaged than you used to be, you could discuss alternative treatment options with your GP.